Here’s a thought: explain yourself to the woman, starting with your wife’s model, pay for the coffee, and leave.
Last month I was sitting at an empty table & had to get up to use the restroom. I left my coat on my chair. When I returned there were two black women seated at the table.
They were deep in what was clearly a personal conversation, and I wanted a table where I could spread my stuff out. So I grabbed my coat and moved to a table nearby that was empty. Instant thought: oh no, I don’t want them to think I moved because they are black! It’s such a common occurrence for black people that it would be reasonable for them to think so.
So I went back to their table and said, with a big sincere smile, “I just want you to know that I moved to give you privacy and to spread my stuff out.”
They smiled & thanked me for explaining. The sparkle in their eyes told me it was sincere and not mere “politeness.” When our eyes met it was obvious they knew why I had done such an unusual thing. And appreciated it.
It was a very easy thing to do, really.
Here’s a starter for you:
“I don’t want you to think I’m some creepy guy trying to hit on you, but I vowed to myself I would buy coffee for the next person behind me. My wife has been doing these ‘random acts of kindness’ with people and I decided to follow her model. So I’d really like to buy you that coffee, and then I’ll leave so you can enjoy it in peace.”
That covers all the bases. You take note of how the situation might appear. You mention your wife & why you are doing it right away. You tell her your plans so she knows what you are doing & why.
I’m no “pretty young thing” myself, but when I was I would have been so pleased to have a man acknowledge what women have to put up with and still carry out the act of kindness…precisely because he’s “not that guy.” I’d be thinking, damn, I wish he wasn’t married cuz that is such a cool thing to do! And I’d enjoy that coffee while fantasizing about meeting a decent man like that who ISN’T married.
BTW, a woman buying a coffee for a handsome, sexy man behind her would have to confront very similar misperceptions. How about talking to your wife about how she handles moments when she could be misunderstood? And jeez…tell her what happened with that young woman.